Mon, 03 Dec 2018
HUNGERFORD town centre’s pigeon problem is now “critical” – but culling is counterproductive, according to the latest advice.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) states the control of feral pigeons is the sole preserve of the landowner – but it forbids certain corrective measures.
Independent advice from the national Pigeon Pest Control Centre (PPCC) states that netting to prevent nesting could lead to prosecution for causing unnecessary suffering if birds become trapped.
Meanwhile, it states that culling can, counter-intuitively, lead to population rejuvenation and growth.
Non-lethal methods recommended include the hugely time-consuming ‘egg oiling’, which deprives fertilised eggs of oxygen and prevents baby birds developing and hatching.
Only once such methods have been exhausted can killing the birds be allowed under licence, according to the PPCC.
At a recent meeting of Hungerford Town Council’s highways and transport committee, deputy town clerk Philippa Adams said: “I was approached by the Town and Manor [of Hungerford] to come up with a novel approach.
“I researched it hugely.
“There was a lot of research done in Italy and Switzerland... after 24 years of culling they had more than what they started with.
“When they removed the eggs it had an effect – but Defra says you musn’t just take the eggs because it leads to calcium-depleted birds.”
Ms Adams said she had come up with an alternative, potential strategy, but added: “I’ve not been allowed to run with it – and I don’t want to discuss it in an open meeting.”
Deputy committee chairman Richard Hudson said: “Things are now quite critical, especially outside [High Street retail outlet] Dods.
“There are hundreds of them.
“Everyone keeps shouting at us about it. We need to do something.”
The town council has earmarked £2,000 to pay for a second ‘trap and despatch’ operation, although the committee heard this was, at best, a temporary measure.
And councillor Rob Chicken warned: “Short-term fixes seem to be just throwing good money after bad.”
Nevertheless, the committee agreed to continue with the trap and despatch programme while pursuing a long-term solution.
One suggestion that was back on the table, the meeting heard, was providing a breeding dovecote.
In February last year, Newbury Weekly News reader Peter Warren-Tibbets suggested just that.
He said at the time: “I was interested to read about the problem pigeons in Hungerford and the various controls they are considering.
“This made me think of our trip to Melbourne, Australia, last year where they had a similar problem but solved it by creating a pigeon-nesting structure in the park.”
Mr Warren-Tibbets, of Upper Basildon, said the wooden structure was about 20ft high and had several nesting areas inside with access for the pigeons from the outside.
He added: “The birds lay their eggs in the nesting areas and a council employee visits every day and removes any eggs.
“This has the effect of controlling numbers without the need of poisons or catch and dispatch.”